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I’m staying at John Day for the month of October volunteering at Kam Wah Chung.  While there I’m exploring the area.

The tourist brochure for Grant County listed the top 20 tourist sights and included the Humongous Fungus with a note to see the chamber of commerce or forest service for more information.  My interest was perked.  The Humongous Fungus was in the top 20 sites to visit in Grant County!  I located the chamber of commerce office and went in to get the information on this interesting site.  The gentleman there had heard of it but couldn’t find any information on it.  He couldn’t remember if he had ever visited it.  He suggested I visit the forest service office, so off I went.  At the forest service office the lady looked around a bit and then found the information for me.  Then she pointed on the map (that she gave me) where I should go to see the Humongous Fungus.  When I pointed out to her that the area wasn’t where the map located the Humongous Fungus, her reply was: “it is all the same.”  I was getting more intrigued about the Humongous Fungus. It didn’t appear to be a hot tourist spot.


Armillaria ostoyae, the humongous fungus.  Photo from Scientific America.

I asked about the Humongous Fungus at Kam Wah Chung.  The responses were:  “be prepared to be underwhelmed,” “it is all underground,” “there is nothing to see,” and “don’t bother to go.”  I mentioned it to Becky; a local person living next door to where I have my trailer parked while volunteering at Kam Wah Chung.  She had lived in John Day 30 years and had never heard of it.  Now I was really intrigued.   Off I went to search for the Humongous Fungus.

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The search for the Humongous Fungus.  The road kept going up, the snow on the ground increased.

What I had learned was the fungus appears in the fall after the first rains.  There had been a number of rains in September – was I too late to see the Humongous Fungus?  Or would I see this intriguing fungus and report back to my fellow workers at Kam Wah Chung that it was an incredible sight?  The information that the forest service gave me, indicated that it covered 2,385 acres, was between 1,900 to 8,650 years old, and is estimated to weigh between 7,567 and 35,000 tons.  It was the largest known living organism in the world!

There were no information signs indicated the way to the Humongous Fungus.  I had the forest service map and my GPS.  Onward I went as I stopped occasionally to check the GPS and map.  And I started to realize how ridiculous this adventure was.  I was out in the middle of nowhere looking for a Humongous Fungus that may be underground at this time of the year.  I reached the location indicated and this is what I found.

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No Humongous Fungus showing here.

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No Humongous Fungus showing here.

It was a fun adventure.  But it made me wonder how the Humongous Fungus was selected to be included in the top 20 sights to see in Grant County.  Was it someone’s idea of a joke?  If so, it got me laughing and I’m still laughing about looking for the Humongous Fungus.

The Facts

  • I can’t find the information given to me by the Malheur National Forest Service on line.  The site isn’t included in the list of “special places.”  I received the information at the forest service building in John Day at the west end of town.